Revue de neuropsychologie


Language, brain and aging: a life-long complicity Volume 7, issue 1, Janvier-Février-Mars 2015

1 Centre de recherche, Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal,
4565 chemin Queen-Mary,
Québec, H3W 1W5, Canada
2 Faculté de médecine, Université de Montréal, Pavillon Roger-Gaudry,
2900 boulevard Edouard-Montpetit,
Montréal, QC H3T 1J4,
Québec, Canada
* Correspondance

The neurobiological bases of language remain activated long after the period of language acquisition. Growing evidence shows that the neurofunctional organization of language develops throughout the lifetime and thus contributes to the maintenance of communication abilities, an important element for active aging. However, the maintenance of communication abilities in older people is in contrast with the observed neurobiological changes taking place, therefore demonstrating that a paradox exists known as the brain-cognition mismatch. It has been hypothesized that neurofunctional reorganisation allows the brain to compensate for age-related neural decline and maintenance of various cognitive abilities, such as language. Several phenomena like the cognitive reserve, HAROLD, PASA, CRUNCH and STAC have attempted to explain the mechanisms of cerebral reorganisation. Yet no theory has fully explained this phenomenon yet, as the brain displays flexible strategies for adapting to aging. This review compares the semantic treatment of words, a language component usually well preserved in aging, between younger and older adults while observing the characteristics of the neurofunctional reorganisation.